With great power comes great responsibility. This seems to be the motto of Internet giant Google, which has always had a humanitarian side, perhaps greater than any other company its size. From the countless open-source projects to the constant push towards an open Internet and to the more practical investments in clean and alternative energy companies, Google is doing more than what would be expected from a giant worth in the region of $150 billion. Now it added some new data to its Google Earth software, which would provide one of the most accurate and detailed pictures of the destruction during the Darfur genocide.
“Despite having far more information about the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan than previous conflicts - celebrity visits to refugee camps, CNN updates, blog posts from aid workers on the ground - it is difficult for the average American to grasp the true scope of systematic violence over an area roughly the size of Texas,” Michael Graham, coordinator of the Genocide Prevention Mapping Initiative, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, wrote
on Google's Lat Long Blog.
“Now, with millions throughout Sudan still at serious risk of violence, we must follow through on the more vital task - putting pressure on the international community to help create sustainable peace throughout Sudan,” he added.
In partnership with the Museum, Google has added a new layer in Google Earth with thousands of sites that have been razed to the ground. The new data shows the magnitude of the disaster by providing users with actual images to supplement the information already widely spread. Using data provided by the US State Department’s Humanitarian Information Unit, Google has mapped the sites of more than 3,300 villages that were completely destroyed or greatly damaged during the fighting.
Most of those villages were destroyed between 2003 and 2005 at the height of the violent movement, which left 200,000 dead and 2.5 million refugees. The new layer also includes before and after images for 200 sites in Darfur to provide a context for the devastation. All of the new data is available in the USHMM Crisis in Darfur layer in the Google Awareness folder.